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Fate of captured Islamic militants remains in limbo as US, Britain sort through legal options
The family of James Foley, a journalist beheaded by Isis in 2014, and other families are waiting to see what will be done with the two men allegedly involved in the Islamic State terrorist group. (Image Source: YouTube screenshot)

Fate of captured Islamic militants remains in limbo as US, Britain sort through legal options

Two Islamic State militants may not receive U.S. criminal trials over fears that there is not enough evidence to secure convictions and lengthy prison terms, the Washington Post reported.

Other factors are also complicating a resolution on what should be done with the two militants.

What is happening?

Senior Trump administration officials believe Britain is responsible for prosecuting Alexanda Kotey, 34, and El Shafee Elsheikh, 29. Their British citizenships were revoked over their alleged involvement with an ISIS group accused of murdering Westerners, according to the report.

But there are conflicting opinions regarding what is the correct action to take.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants Koty and Elsheikh to be detained at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

State Department officials, meanwhile, do not want to undermine the U.S.’s position that “terrorist fighters captured overseas should be returned to their countries of origin,” the report stated.

The stalled action in the case is causing stress for the victims’ families, who are hoping for a decision that will lead to a fair and open trial, the Post reported. They are opposed to sending the men to Guantanamo, which they believe bolsters the terrorists’ narrative of “abuse and mistreatment by U.S. authorities.”

Also slowing the process are leadership changes in London and in the U.S. In London, a new Home secretary recently took office. And last month, John Bolton was named as President Donald Trump's national security adviser.

"We really don't have any commitment that the U.S. is going to actually take on their case," said Diane Foley. Her son, journalist James Foley, was beheaded by the Islamic State in 2014.

Foley and the relatives of three other deceased American hostages recently met with Bolton and Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers, the Post reported.

She said that while they were sympathetic, they did not offer many answers.

"It's all very much still up in the air," she said.

Foley said the families are now hoping to speak with Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the Post reported.

What was the response?

The White House, Pentagon, Justice Department and State Department all declined to comment on the matter, the Post reported.

"We continue to work extremely closely with the U.S. government on this issue . . . in the context of our joint determination to tackle international terrorism and combat violent extremism," a British government spokesman said.

In January, Trump issued an executive order to leave Guantanamo open. There are criteria in place for the process to transfer terrorist suspects captured on the battlefield to the prison. One is that they are considered high-ranking members of groups such as Al Qaeda or the Islamic State, according to the report.

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